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Designing Living Systems (LARC20001)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeLARC20001
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Ecological design is an interdisciplinary endeavour that demands a high level of scientific literacy from the lead designer. This subject, Designing Living Systems, examines the technical aspects of ecological design in the urban context.

Through a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials delivered by practitioners and experts from the allied disciplines, this subject guides the students through the process of developing a conceptual ecological design that is grounded in applied urban ecology.

This seminars and studio-based core subject explores the integration of living systems into Melbourne’s urban environments, focusing on where people live and work. The subject builds on theories, principles, practices and representations introduced in Natural History and focuses on design applicability through a series of assignments.

Intended learning outcomes

  • To develop the ability to select plant material palettes and prepare planting plans for a range of urban project scales in Melbourne;
  • To develop an appreciation of the aesthetic, functional and ecological contributions of living systems (native and non-native plants and plant communities, soils and their relationship to micro-climates, water systems, biodiversity, energy and on-going maintenance, performance rating schemes) to contemporary and future urban landscapes;
  • Assimilates ecological design principles, spatial patterns and aesthetic considerations of planting design with the built urban environment, with an emphasis on the research and expression of ecological ideas;
  • Engages with and manipulates the interrelationship between animal, plant, soil, hydrological and climatic conditions;
  • Familiar with the characteristics of commonly used Australian plants and their ecosystems;
  • Develop an understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges specific to ecological design in the urban context;
  • Develop skills in landscape documentation techniques.

Generic skills

  • Critical and spatial thinking
  • Multiscalar spatial analysis
  • Ability to represent concepts and express them through graphic representations, written and oral presentations

Eligibility and requirements


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
Natural History 2019



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Knowledge of the following subject is strongly recommended:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
ARCH10003 Design Studio Alpha
Semester 1
Semester 2

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Assignment 1: plant Database, equivalent to 600 words due week 3, 15%
  • Assignment 2: Ecological Research, equivalent to 600 words due week 5. 15%
  • Assignment 3: Site Analysis, equivalent to 800 words due week 7, 20%
  • Assignment 4: A design exercise equivalent to 2000 words due week 12.

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorSimon Chen
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours1X2 hour lecture and 1X2 hour tutorial Per week
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

    Simon Chen (Subject Coordinator)


Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    There are no specifically prescribed or recommended texts for this subject.

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 3 April 2019